In an event at Ciao Bello last week with Tony Vallone and about 100 of his closest friends, the well-respected master of Italian dining in Houston introduced new chef Corey Bowers. He fills the position vacated quite some time ago by Bobby Matos, who left to head up State of Grace. (As reported by Culturemap Houston, that departure led to some contention that quickly blew over.)
Bowers moved to Houston from North Carolina, where he used to work for Madison’s Old Edwards Inn, a high-end resort. While the family was there, his son was diagnosed with cancer. “We moved here to have access to the best treatment,” Bowers said during a brief interview.
Fortunately, his son was already in remission by the time Bower and his family moved, but that didn’t change the dad’s mind about wanting to be close to Houston’s world-renowned cancer treatment facilities, such as MD Anderson. “We moved him over here just in case of a relapse. Luckily enough, he hasn’t had a relapse and is almost cancer-free.”
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Bowers said he drew most of his career inspiration from former White House chef Pierre Chambrin, whom he worked under for a time. “That really got my mind turning. I really wanted to make something out of this,” Bowers said.
As far as how he landed his current position at Ciao Bello, it was just good old sweat equity. Bowers first worked at The Tasting Room at CityCentre, and then spent a year putting in long hours under executive chef Kate McLean at Tony's. “It was just hard work and proving myself,” he said.
While Bowers is the new chef at Ciao Bello, the role is very much about maintaining the integrity of Vallone's menu. So, diners can continue to expect the same house-made pastas, family recipe meatballs and fresh broiled fish that have made the restaurant a neighborhood favorite since it opened.